EXCLUSIVE: Expara to raise new $21.6m fund

Visual from Expara website

Singapore-based venture capital firm Expara Ventures, which invests in interactive and digital media startups in the city-state, Malaysia and Thailand, is raising a new fund with a target of S$30 million (US$ 21.6 million), an executive directly aware of the development said. Called the ‘Regional Early Stage Fund’, it will invest upwards of S$500,000 in startups looking at raising seed and Series A funding.

Average ticket sizes under this latest fund will be nearly twice the current limit of S$255,000 (US$183,585). Expara will make the first close of this fund in April, with the final close set for the later part of 2015, according to the executive quoted above, who declined to be identified.

Following the close, investments from this fund will begin.

In layman’s terms, ‘first close’ means the fund has reached a certain threshold in terms of the amount raised and it can begin making investments and close deals, even as new Limited Partners (LPs) can continue to join it. A final close implies reaching the second threshold, with no LPs able to join after this point.

Expara has declined to comment on this development. Its latest fund is different from its earlier vehicles that were public-private partnerships with the Singapore Government, such as the the IDM Programme Office of the National Research Foundation. The new ‘Regional Early Stage Fund’ may see a lack of government participation, with the firm looking to raise the entire amount from private investors.

With earlier funds, the Singapore government matched Expara’s investment into the startup on a one-to-one basis, which was part of a strategy to support VC firms investing in Singapore-based startups under its early stage Early Stage Venture Fund (ESVF) scheme.

Apparently, Expara has received significant interest from high net-worth individuals, family offices and small institutional investors, which have been key to Expara achieving the first close by next month.

Other VC firms in Singapore that invest across the same verticals are also in the process of raising new funds. DEALSTREETASIA recently reported that Jungle Ventures was raising its second fund, with a target of up to $100 million. The report also added that Jungle is learnt to have received between $20-30 million in commitments already and plans a final close for this vehicle next year.

Singapore-headquartered private equity firm Northstar Group‘s venture capital arm NSI Ventures is also pushing towards the final close of its first fund, estimated to be upwards of $50 million, according to industry executives tracking the venture capital scene here.

In addition to the fund, Expara also runs an incubation centre – Expara IDM Ventures (EIDMV) – in Block 71, the startup hub in Singapore. According to the company’s website, EIDMV has invested in 16 start-ups that have raised more than S$5.24 million in follow-on funding.

Some notable firms in its portfolio are Singapore-based property crowdfunding platform CoAssets, which recently closed a Series A round worth S$1 million. Another is social software business venture Wildfire, which launched in 2009 and subsequently rebranded as ActSocial in September 2014, with aggregate funding of US$3 million.

Related Stories:

NSI Ventures nears final close of $50m first fund

Tookitaki raises $1m seed funding led by Jungle Ventures

Tough to be entrepreneur in Asia : Jungle VC’s Amit

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.